New Year’s resolutions are the water cooler topic of choice this week and getting fit is a firm favourite. Lean and mean for twenty fourteen, baby. Feeling pressured by Daily Mail’s side bar of shame and pudgy from a Christmas at home many find themselves stumbling across fitspo (fitness inspiration pages on tumblr, Instagram, twitter and facebook). They’re basically a heavy mix of VS models, ladies who lift, ‘inspirational’ quotes, clean meals and exemplar workouts. All of which are littered with adverts to their ‘friends’ pages or products they’re endorsing.
This community is certainly a happier place than thinspo pages, which saw their heyday in the late 2000. Having been an avid follower of both, I know I feel happier about myself, and more inspired looking at fitspo. Unlike thinspo, they thankfully don’t promote starvation, purging and rarely any specific dieting regime.
But I remain concerned about the impact these pages can have. In my experience, the vast majority of those behind the pages are unqualified and/or trying to promote their products or routines and therefore are possibly some of the absolute worst people to take advice from. Plenty caution their readers and followers but this is not enough. Making any major change to the way you treat your body should be supervised by those who are unbiased and have authority on the subject.
The men and women in the pictures look glorious, but many are full time fitness models or fitness competitors and they set unrealistic expectations for many. If it was my job to look that good I’d be putting my everything into it and seeing the results, but as a lowly student I often feel demoralised. I can’t lift as much as they can, I can’t perform any impressive yoga flows with ease and I certainly can’t perform the HIIT sessions they do. It’s hard to see the slow progress when all I see are people at the top of their game. There must be plenty of people who see these images and immediately feel put off of making healthy changes because they aren’t achieving their goals quickly enough.
Obviously one could stop looking at fitspo and use the time to work out more but this stuff is more addictive than facebook. The cautions don’t go far enough, people are inspired to follow these people, but go through a horrible cycle. Inspired – demoralised – give up – inspired…. The page owners really do need to make more of an effort to make it clear that they are a different breed, out of the reach of so many of their followers but still happy to be their inspiration.
When people are feeling at their lowest, demotivated and turning back to their own ways, their insta feed refreshes to show a fabulous wonder product, advertised by your beloved page. If she uses it and looks that good, maybe it’ll help you too? The endorsements of these pages support new businesses and initiatives and brings obvious benefits to them but the price is more than financial. The cycle merely adds a level to itself, your product arrives and still the developments in your body aren’t happening as fast as you might like so you give up once more. All in time for summer body season and so it begins again.
So let us all just be happy, healthy and end up with whatever body we can realistically achieve. Use as much fitspo as you need to get yourself off your arse, but question everything and don’t compare yourself to them, unless you’re planning on entering Cross Fit Games any time soon.